So you wanna ref, huh?
It is the hardest, most important, most rewarding position in paintball. To help with your new responsibility, I have gathered some stories, tips and tricks to share. Hope this helps you out!
This First Post will cover why there are refs to begin with, then some gear that you will need/want to do your job. Posts to follow will include how a game is run, positions for refs, hints and tricks for being at the right place at the right time and maybe a funny story or two!
Why are there Refs?
- 1. To keep a game safe, first and foremost. Always ‘err’ on the side of safety. This is for two reasons. First, if a player gets injured the days sucks for them. Second, if a player gets injured because you didn’t do your job, you can get sued. So let’s keep everyone safe and healthy!
2. To keep a field running. Without a Ref, how would teams get divided up, games started, and winners declared?
3. To help newbies. This is a very important job. A ref helping a player with tactics and moving can make paintball that much better. On the flipside, a ref that makes fun of newbies has just turned off someone from our great sport. Don’t be that guy.
4. To help everyone. Marker Jam? Paint broke? Lost a hopper? Give a hand when possible, even on the field. A friendly ref has a much easier day than a pain-in-the-butt ref. Be friendly and most people will be friendly to you.
5. Enforce Rules. Why is this so far down the list? Because everyone thinks this is the first job of a ref, and only see the ref as the ‘bad guy’ or ‘some taking away the fun.’ While you do have to enforce the rules, it should happen as a result of the above, not because you think you are Judge Dredd (90’s movie reference, look it up! LOL)
6. To learn. That’s right. As a ref, you should be learning. Learn about different types of players. Learn about different types of markers. See different tactics or moves and how they work. If you ever play on the field you ref, learn what does and doesn’t work for attack and defense! Then see numbers 3 and 4 and spread that learned stuff around!
- 1. Your own Mask. Get a good one, as it is going to be on you all day. Get one with a changeable lens. If you know you are going to be reefing during a sunny day, maybe get a smoked lens or mirrored lens. If it is cloudy or indoor, maybe a clear lens. Keep your lens clean and scratch free.
2. A good attitude! You are going to be hit with stray paintballs, hit with intentional paintballs, be run over by a hard charging player, get sunburned, become dehydrated and be just plain tired. Be positive! Being in the perfect spot to see the perfect run, with a player bunkering an entire team, from one side of the field to the other makes all those scrapes, bruises and sunburns worth it!
- 1. Padded Hat or similar. Why a padded hap? It helps keep a Ref in the game if they don’t worry about getting hit all the time. A good ref gets hit more than most players. Why? Because a good ref is where the action is! Get a padded hat if your mask doesn’t cover your whole head!
2. Game Timer. This can be a simple egg timer that can count down the seconds, to a high speed low drag talking paintball timer. Both will let you know how much time is left in the game. This is good for two reasons. You can tell the players when is almost up and get them to make that last push. It also allows you, as a ref, to move to a better end game position. If there is one minute left in a capture the flag game, odds are a rush of some sort is going to happen. Get where you need to be to help ref it.
3. Barrel swab and/or squeegee. Paint breaks in barrels. Be helpful and carry a swab. Many players say thank you after a game if you lend them a swab. Plus it makes the player’s happier and overall a better day for them. This is a good thing.
4. Knee pads or slider pants/shorts. You should be running to paint-checks or covering players that get hit in big fights. If you slide into a bunker and hit a rock or something, pads help take the edge off and could mean the difference between a close call and a week-long limp. Protect yourself and have a better day.
5. Whistle. Use it to start the game, end the game, and for safety violations. Remember how the lifeguard could get your attention at the pool with their whistle? Same concept.
6. Notepad and pen. Did you loan a player a swab and had to run off for a paint-check? Write down the description of the player so you can get it back later. Have someone that looks like they are shooting hot or ramping? Note it down and bring it to your head ref or field owner. Have a player showing great teamwork, note that too! There is always a reason to have a notepad.
Remember why you are there on the field. Safety, game play, support, and rules.
Ask the more experienced ref’s what you can expect on your first few times. Ask about hot spots or places where there is always a large firefight. Check with you head ref or field owner about what they expect from you. Sit in on the morning safety briefing if there is one. It is good to get yourself reminded of the rules and what the players are expected to know.